Designing responsibly means not only taking into account the way things are made and used, but also researching the appropriate images for such projects, and their iconic value. While forty years ago “green tools” were usually simple natural design objects, today they have to be balanced between the archaic and the high-tech. The windmill is an old image but by transferring it onto a larger scale and with contemporary high-tech materials and construction methods, it has become a new icon of ecological energy production. It has also become an ornament of contemporary architecture, serving a symbolic value.
This research project aims to describe the phenomenon of the transformed “Green Look” at the beginning of the twenty-first century. We live in a world where a biodegradable plastic shopping bag could be more environmental friendly than a shopping bag made out of a natural material such as jute. Design helps to visualize complex things by the use of simple images. Various examples out of the contemporary design context may explain the use of images in design: a concept car serves as an example for a discussion of design iconology, while a consumer ritual is described as an example for the use of the power of images as part of symbolic actions (see figure). The “power of images” is a notion used to make us understand the impact of images that can actually change our lives just by looking at them.